Congress leaders allege that relief material is being distributed through the BJD activists

The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is resorting to relief politics in Phailin cyclone and flood-hit Ganjam district with an eye on coming elections, alleged leaders of Odisha State unit of the Congress.

Speaking to newsmen in the city, senior leaders of the party alleged that the State government was intentionally not forming a State-level all party committee to monitor the relief and restoration process after the natural calamity. They urged the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to rise above petty party politics and involve all in the process of relief and restoration. This press meet was addressed by former Speaker of State Assembly Kishor Chandra Patel, who also heads the relief committee of the party, former Union Minister Chandrasekhar Sahu, general secretary of the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) Kishore Jena, former State Revenue Minister Jagannath Patnaik etc.

All party meeting

Mr Sahu said it was an irony that even in Ganjam district, the administration has not called up an all party meeting to discuss about the devastation caused by the natural calamities and the relief and restoration measures initiated after that. “It seems the State government is refraining from involving all sections of people in the relief and restoration process as the ruling party wants to take political advantage out of it,” Mr Sahu said. “It is an irony that at several places the relief materials are being distributed through the BJD activists,”Mr Patel added.

As per Mr Sahu, the NGOs involved in relief and restoration work were being sent to different villages as per the wish of BJD MLAs and leaders. “But the fact that Mr Naveen Patnaik has no emotions for the plight of people of his home district is proved from the fact that he is yet to make a visit to the cyclone and flood hit areas of the district to take stock of ground realities by interacting with the affected people,” the Congress leaders said.

As per the PCC leaders, they were in Ganjam district since October 26, distributing relief materials, medical help, and cooked food to affected people who had not been reached by the administration. According to them, the State government was only trying to draw publicity and political gain for the future election from the relief and restoration work, while the real needy were being neglected.

The Congress leaders wanted their party and the Centre to get due share of credit for the relief operation. According to them, 75 per cent of the funds for the relief work was being provided by the Centre, while the BJD government in the State was trying to take all credit for it and demean the Congress-led Centre through misinformation.

The Congress also put doubts on the data regarding evacuation of people for the Phailin cyclone in Ganjam district and the money spent on it.

According to them, most people had left their homes on their own due to warning from the media. “But there was no preparedness for the rains and floods that came afterwards which was proved from the fact that most cyclone devastated families who were to face the rains and floods had not got polythene sheets,” Mr Patel said.